Grading the 49ers

Pass offense

Colin Kaepernick answered the call in his playoff debut by completing two touchdown passes to Michael Crabtree during the second quarter. Showing veteran poise, Kaepernick overcame an interception returned for a touchdown (7-0 deficit) on the opening series. His 54.8 completion percentage (17 of 31, 263 yards) marked his fourth straight game below his season average of 62.4 percent. Joe Staley's ability to play through a bruised right arm was big. Grade: A-

Run offense

No quarterback in NFL history ran for more yards in a game than Kaepernick, whose 181 yards included touchdown runs of 20 and 56 yards. Great blocks by Ted Ginn Jr., Crabtree and Bruce Miller sprang the 56-yard TD that put the 49ers ahead for good. Aiding the read-option effect was Frank Gore's first 100-yard game (119) in 10 outings. LaMichael James ran for 14 yards on his first career playoff carry. Grade: A

Pass defense

Aaron Rodgers didn't get turned loose, and his average of 6.59 yards per attempt was his third-worst of the season. His only interception got nabbed on a seemingly harmless deep pass, but Tarell Brown's 39-yard return set up Crabtree's second touchdown catch. Patrick Willis got the 49ers' only sack, and Justin Smith's double-team block deserved an assist. Grade: A-


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Run defense

Welcome back, Justin Smith, whose presence echoes well beyond his five tackles. Willis and NaVorro Bowman lived up to their Saturday morning billing as Associated Press All-Pro first-team picks. DuJuan Harris' first-quarter touchdown run was an ominous sight. Grade: A

Special teams

Kudos all around, including to embattled kicker David Akers' successful comeback (36-yard field goal). C.J. Spillman's recovery of a muffed punt at the Packers' 9-yard line sparked the comeback. Ginn showed excellent determination on a 28-yard return that got nullified by a penalty. Grade: A

Coaching

Jim Harbaugh and his staff mold tremendous game plans when given extra time to prepare. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman's stock shot up even more for a potential head-coaching gig. Even with a strong lead, the 49ers kept attacking, as needed in do-or-die games. Grade: A

-- CAM INMAN